Franciszek Smuda backs Poland to progress at Euro 2012

 

The Poland coach, Franciszek Smuda, yesterday announced the European Championship co-hosts' 23-man squad, and declared it the worst moment of any coach's career. Smuda made the announcement, including telling the three players who were surplus to requirements, as Poland wrapped up their training camp less than two weeks before kicking off the tournament.

Having released a 26-name list on 2 May, ahead of training camps in Turkey and Austria, Smuda had until the end of this month to shave it to the 23 allowed under Uefa rules. The unlucky players were the defenders Tomasz Jodlowiec of Polonia Warsaw and Kamil Glik of Italy's recently promoted Torino, and the Legia Warsaw striker Michal Kucharczyk.

"This decision was incredibly hard for the team staff," said Smuda. "It's probably the worst moment for a manager, having to tell three players that they won't continue training."

Added to Smuda's list was the goalkeeper Grzegorz Sandomierski of Genk, who was called up on Saturday to replace Arsenal's Lukasz Fabianski.

Fabianski, the understudy to his club and country team-mate Wojciech Szczesny, played in a 1-0 friendly win over Latvia in Austria last Tuesday. But doctors decided it was too risky to include him in the final squad, due to a shoulder injury.

"This is a tragedy for him. He was in good form, we saw that in training," said Smuda.

Poland beat Slovakia 1-0 on Saturday in their penultimate warm-up match, in Austria. They play their final pre-Euro 2012 friendly on Saturday, back home in Warsaw against Andorra. Smuda has not announced any major surprises as his squad prepare for the tournament, which will be co-hosted with Ukraine. The only newcomer is the 19-year-old Legia Warsaw midfielder Rafal Wolski – a rising star who is on the radar of foreign clubs – who made his debut in the Latvia match.

Smuda, who has been at the helm since October 2009, usually relies on players from foreign leagues, notably Germany's Bundesliga. They include the star striker Robert Lewandowski, the midfielder and captain Kuba Blaszczykowski and the defender Lukasz Piszczek, who all play for the double winners, Borussia Dortmund.

Poland will have their work cut out against their Group A opponents, Greece, the Czech Republic and Russia. Having failed to reach the 2010 World Cup, and with an automatic hosts' berth at Euro 2012, Poland will have gone 968 days without a competitive match by the time they kick-off against Greece on 8 June in Warsaw.

"Of course we have a chance to progress from the group and make it to the quarter-finals," said Smuda. "But the first game is the most important for us."

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